Friday 18 January 2019

'Absolutely indefensible and inexcusable' - Sinn Féin suspend Senator for three months over controversial retweet

Senator Máire Devine and Austin Stack. Photo: McGrath
Senator Máire Devine and Austin Stack. Photo: McGrath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Sinn Féin has suspended a Senator for three months after she retweeted a parody account’s tweet that called IRA victim Brian Stack a “sadist”.

The tweet, from a now deleted account calling itself the 'Strategic Comms Unit', made reference to Mr Stack, calling him 'a sadist prison officer'.

Austin Stack. Photo: Frank McGrath
Austin Stack. Photo: Frank McGrath

It was retweeted by Senator Máire Devine yesterday, leading to calls from Mr Stack’s son for her to be sacked from the party.

Sinn Féin’s national chairperson Declan Kearney met with Ms Devine today to discuss the row and decided afterwards that Ms Devine should be suspended for three months.

The sanction is similar to that initially handed down to MP Barry Elduff after he posted an online video with a loaf of Kingsmill on his head. Relatives of the victims of the 1976 Kingsmill massacre described as callous and offensive and he eventually resigned as a MP.

Speaking this afternoon, Mr Kearney said the senators behaviour is “absolutely indefensible and inexcusable”.

Brian Stack
Brian Stack

“The Ard Chomhairle has suspended, with immediate effect, Senator Devine from party membership and all party activities for a period of three months.

“The whip has been removed and Senator Devine will be outside of the Leinster House team for that period.

“Sinn Féin strongly disapproves of what has happened.  There can be no excuse for the hurt and offence which has been caused to the Stack family.”

Austin Stack said that what he found “particularly offensive about this is that not only did Senator Devine defame my father but then in a series of tweets she tried to justify her position and accused me of being sensitive”.    

Ms Devine said today that it was never her intention “to cause distress or hurts, particularly to victims of the conflicts”.

“I want to offer my most sincere apologies to the family of the late Brian Stack,” she said.

"I accept the decision by the party national chairperson to suspend my membership of Sinn Féin for three months.

"I deeply regret what has happened, and want to profusely apologise for all the offence and hurt caused by my Twitter activity."

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